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Coming Back Onboard

September 25, 2017

We had a relatively uneventful summer and considering all that has been happening in the world I feel lucky. Even with a fairly packed schedule, we managed to get out and have many fun days out and about on the Peconic. We did not manage to get any kayaking in but we did spend a lot of time on the hook swimming and hanging out.
 We rafted up a few times with friends, but not in the traditional way. You see, I don’t carry any fenders onboard the boat. I have seen the damage caused by fellow boaters that are unaware of the damage their wake can cause to boats that are rafted together, even with fenders. I like to get together in a different way. When meeting with a friend to “raft up”, I like to let them anchor up first and let their boat get set in the wind or current. When they are all set, I head astern of them anywhere from 20 to 40 yards or so (depending on water depth) and drop my anchor with my stern facing their stern. I then back up to them while letting out anchor line and stop when I am about 15 feet off their stern. We then toss a line over and I pull up any slack in my anchor line. As long as my anchor is set, we can adjust the line between us (I don’t have less than 10 feet there) and we are all set. No worries about wakes crashing us together and no hassle when it’s time to go. I did this a few weeks ago with some friends that never tried it before. It was a windy day and they were worried about damaging the boats. They had tried it before without the second boat dropping the hook and did not like the results. After I had us all set they loved it.
 We did a lot of swimming, and I am so proud of my wife. She has not really been fond of swimming, and wakes make her nervous when they pass by. Whenever we swim, I toss out our life ring with an attached 50 foot of yellow polyethylene line that floats. It is very easy to see if needed and gives a person that may be uncomfortable in the water some reassurance. With this set-up, my better half stayed in the water an hour at a time, and we had a ball just swimming and talking while staying near the boat.
 One time, however, a problem did pop up. It was there since I owned the boat but I never noticed it. On one especially beautiful day, after being in the water for an hour or so, we decided it was time to get out and have our lunch. I got out and started drying off and the others followed. As I was looking forward I heard a loud noise, and then a splash. One of our friends came up the ladder that folds out from the swim platform and grabbed on to the transom door to pull herself up. The sound I heard was the two little 1/4 inch screws that held the door latch ripping out of the transom door. Our friend was mortified, but thankfully not hurt.
 Two things became immediately apparent to me. The latch on the transom door needed to be through bolted in case this should ever happen again. The second thing I noticed was there was no grab handle to use when coming back onboard!
 We have owned this boat since 2003 and never saw a need for this but it was a glaring omission from the equipment list. Now I was on a mission to correct both of these problems. The first thing to do was find a handle that would suit this purpose. When I first purchased the boat, I purchased a 3 foot pair of stainless grab rails to place on the cabin top. It was something I saw that was needed to walk forward to the bow with confidence in all but the calmest conditions. Well, it turns out that that company makes a small grab handle also! So I ordered on that night. While waiting for that to arrive I turned my attention to the door latch and the damaged gelcoat. I could see that the latch itself would cover the damage, so all I did was to use some Marine Tex epoxy to fill and level the damaged areas. I then made an aluminum backing plate (the same size as the latch base) with holes to match the latch and painted it to match the door color as best as I could. When the paint was dry on that and the epoxy had set up, I drilled two holes through the door and re-installed the latch. It looks like it came from the factory as installed and is very solid. I believe it will now stand up to being grabbed by a swimmer, but I hope it will never have to be used like that again. That is where the new grab rail comes in.
 The new handle arrived about a week later and I went right out to the boat with it and all sorts of tools. Before it came I was scouting out the best place to install it, and as luck would have it the boat name was right in the spot I wanted to place the handle. So, off the name would come. Anticipating this I had already ordered a new name. Using an old hair dryer I set about removing the name. Then using some acetone I removed all the glue, washing the spot often with soap and water since I read that acetone could damage the gelcoat if left on for long periods. After that, I compounded the transom to remove the shadows of the old letters. Then I cleaned the area again with glass cleaner to get any wax off. Before installing the new name I would first install the new handle. To do this I had to take off the fold down seat in the stern and remove a piece of Starboard trim. Taking measurements (more than once) I drilled two pilot holes in the stern from the inside out. I needed to borrow a longer drill bit since I had to drill through both the hull and hull liner, or inner hull. I then used a 1 inch hole saw to drill two holes in the inner hull where the pilot holes were. Looking through those larger holes I could see the holes in the outer hull. I then used a pair of mechanical fingers to place the two bolts with fender washers through the 1 inch holes in the inner liner, letting the 1/4 inch diameter bolt threads stick out of the transom. Then all I had to do was place the grab handle over the threads and using a socket wrench tighten it all up. It worked like a charm and after using sealant I was able to close it all up. Now we have a handle to help us all back onboard.

The next step was to install the name. It is the same name, just new letters. We did change the coloring, from gold letters with a black outline to black letters with a gold outline. We just felt it stood out a little better. Installation was fairly easy, even with the boat still in the water. I just marked where the bottom of the letters needed to be, and after making sure there was no wax again, I taped the letters to the stern and made sure they were level. I ran a piece of tape across the name and working one side at a time, removed the backing and working out from the middle I used a rubber squeegee to firmly rub the name onto the boat. Next!


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